Boil-Water Advisory Lifted for Mercer Island


Guidance for Residents Includes Flushing Pipes Before Drinking Water

Drinking Water WarningThe City of Mercer Island announces that the latest test results from water samples collected Sunday have been analyzed and are clear of E Coli. Restaurants may reopen following completion of step-by-step procedures.

All eleven of the samples revealed no presence of E Coli.

One sample did test positive for Total Coliform.  An occasional reading for Total Coliform is not uncommon, and does not in itself indicate any health hazard. Most coliform bacteria are a normal part of the environment and do not cause disease. Continue reading


What to be wary of in the government’s new site detailing industry payments to docs


The government’s new website on drug and device company ties to doctors will be incomplete and may be misleading — for now.

Twenty-dollar bill in medicine bottleBy Charles Ornstein
ProPublica, Sep. 30, 2014, 10 a.m.

The government’s release today of a trove of data detailing drug and device companies’ payments to doctors has been widely hailed as a milestone for transparency.

But it is also something else: a very limited window into the billions in industry spending. Before you dive in and search your doctor, here are five caveats to keep in mind.

Tracking the Money

* The data only covers a fraction of payments

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act, part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, called for the first public release of this data 18 months ago.

But because of delays writing detailed rules implementing the law, the first release of data will happen today and it will only cover payments for a few months, from August to December 2013.

So if you search for your doctor and you do not find him or her, it doesn’t mean that he or she didn’t receive a payment. Continue reading


Medicare open enrollment fast approaching — What we know so far



By Michelle Andrew
KHN / September 30th

Medicare beneficiaries who want to make changes to their prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage coverage can do so starting Oct. 15 during the Medicare’s program’s annual open enrollment period.

There will be somewhat fewer plans to pick from this year, but in general people will have plenty of options, experts say.

And although premiums aren’t expected to rise markedly overall in 2015—and in some cases may actually decline—some individual plans have signaled significantly higher rates.

The annual open enrollment period is also a once-a-year opportunity to switch to a private Medicare Advantage plan from the traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan or vice versa.

.Rather than rely on the sticker price of a plan alone, it’s critical that beneficiaries compare the available options in their area to make sure they’re in the plan that covers the drugs and doctors they need at the best price.

The annual open enrollment period is also a once-a-year opportunity to switch to a private Medicare Advantage plan from the traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan or vice versa. Open enrollment ends Dec. 7.

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released some specifics about 2015 premiums and plans, many details about provider networks, drug formularies and the like won’t be available until later this fall. Here’s what we know so far: Continue reading


Health news headlines – September 30th


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Global health news – September 30th


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All Residents of Mercer Island Are Advised to Boil Their Tap Water Before Drinking


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All Mercer Island  Restaurants Are Ordered to Close

Due to the Boil-Water Advisory, the Mercer Island Farmers Market today is canceled.

The next round of test results is expected approx midday today (Sunday).

The City of Mercer Island is advising all water customers on the Island to boil their water before drinking, or to use bottled water. There are no reports of illness at this time.

The City’s water provider, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) routinely tests over 800 samples for bacteria from the region each month, including 18 samples collected each month in the Mercer Island distribution system. Test samples collected on Mercer Island on September 26 showed the presence of E. coli on September 27, indicating that the water may not be safe to drink.

Boiled or purchased bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice.  Bring the water to a boil, let it boil for at least 1 minute, and let it cool before using.  Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that could potentially be in the water.

Dishwashers can be used if run with the sanitizing/heat cycle and commercial dishwashing detergent. Dishes can be hand washed if rinsed in a diluted bleach solution – one teaspoon household bleach to one gallon of water – and then allowed to air dry.

Water can be used for bathing, but do not drink any of the water and do not allow babies to put the water or wet washcloth in the mouth.

Public Health – Seattle & King County orders all food establishments such as restaurants, coffee shops, and delis operating on the Island to suspend operations until the boil water advisory is lifted.  Health inspectors will be providing guidance to schools, childcare, long term care and skilled nursing facilities.  Permitted food establishments are asked to contact Public Health-Seattle & King County.

To address this situation, City Utility crews are inspecting system facilities, flushing water mains in potential problem areas and ensuring chlorine levels are adequate throughout the distribution system.  The City of Mercer Island continues to sample the water throughout the Island to confirm the quality of the water.  We will issue further notice when the water supply is confirmed to be safe.

Aside from Mercer Island, all other SPU water is safe for drinking. Extensive testing over the past two days of SPU’s distribution system, which provides drinking water to much of King County, has shown that the problem is isolated to Mercer Island. Daily routine testing continues at all municipal water systems throughout the area.

Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Organisms in drinking water are not the only cause of such symptoms.  If people experience any of these symptoms and they persist, they may want to seek medical advice.  People at increased risk should seek advice about drinking water from their health care provider.

This notice is being issued following consultation with the Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle and King County.

If residents have any further questions, please contact the City of Mercer Island hotline at 206-275-7800.



State disciplines health-care providers


Seal_of_WashingtonPeriodically Washington State Department of Health issues an update on disciplinary actions taken against health care providers, including suspensions and revocations of licenses, certifications, or registrations of providers in the state.

The department also suspends the credentials of people who have been prohibited from practicing in other states.

Information about health care providers is also on the agency’s website.

To find this information click on “Provider Credential Search” on the left hand side of the Department of Health home page (

The site includes information about a health care provider’s license status, the expiration and renewal date of their credential, disciplinary actions and copies of legal documents issued after July 1998.

This information is also available by calling 360-236-4700.

Consumers who think a health care provider acted unprofessionally are also encouraged to call and report their complaint.

Here is the September 25th update issued by the Washington State Department of Health: Continue reading


Top five stories of the week

Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly


One Page Guide to the Health Insurance Marketplace |


ACA health reform logoHere’s a quick rundown on the most important things to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange.” Follow the links for more information on each topic.

via One Page Guide to the Health Insurance Marketplace |


Got Drugs? – National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Today


Got Drugs

Got Drugs? – National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

September 27, 2014
10AM to 2PM

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

Locate a Collection Site Near You




Pressure from providers leads some women to have C-sections, inductions


Blue Pregnant BellyBy Christen Brownlee
Health Behavior News Service

Pregnant women who felt pressured to have a labor induction or cesarean section by their obstetrical care providers were significantly more likely to have these procedures, even if there was no medical need for them, suggests a new study in the journal Health Services Research.

Both cesarean deliveries and labor inductions continue to rise, accounting for about a third of births in the U.S.

While both procedures can be life saving for mothers and babies, previous studies have found that they can also increase the risk of poor health outcomes, such as respiratory problems for newborns and infections and death for mothers, as well as significantly increasing health care costs. Continue reading


Global health news – September 27th




Training young men to change their lives by saving others


In Oakland, California, a program called EMS Corps trains young men to become certified emergency medical technicians. Students with disadvantaged backgrounds get an intensive five-month course, as well as a powerful, new outlook on what they can do in life and for their neighborhoods. Sarah Varney of Kaiser Health News reports in collaboration with the NewsHour.


Harborview as busy as ever, even with more people insured | Local News | The Seattle Times


HarborviewWith more people obtaining health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, places like Harborview Medical Center are providing much less “charity” (uncompensated) care. The Emergency Department there is as busy as ever, though.

via Harborview as busy as ever, even with more people insured | Local News | The Seattle Times.